McNay on Money

Be the First In Your Age Group to Embrace Technology

By: Don McNay
By: Don McNay

I've always been an "early adapter" in the technology world. I had a personal computer long before any of my friends did. Same with the cell phone, fax machine, email, website and PDA. I got an iPad the first day they hit the market, just like I did with the iPhone.

"Do you believe in rock and roll, can music save your mortal soul?"

-Don McLean

Daisy Werthan: You should have let me keep my old LaSalle. It never would've behaved this way and
you know it.
Boolie Werthan: Mama, cars don't behave. They are behaved upon. Fact is, you demolished that
Chrysler all by yourself.

-Driving Miss Daisy

I believe in God, country and rock and roll. But the concept that gives me the most hope for the future
is technology.

I've always been an "early adapter" in the technology world. I had a personal computer long before any of my friends did. Same with the cell phone, fax machine, email, website and PDA. I got an iPad the first day they hit the market, just like I did with the iPhone.

Spending money on technology has been some of my best moves. Sometimes I am too far ahead of the curve, (I had video-conferencing 15 years ago but no one to conference with) but generally it pays off.

When used properly, technology is a tool that makes us more productive. It can also be a distraction,
stressor or time waster.

The technological principle I try to live by is that I want to the first in my age group to use the newest
gadget.

One of my grad school classmates was a computer pioneer. He had an interesting insight. He said that the best computer minds on the planet were always going to be high school and college students. They have the time and energy to learn new skills.

Even more importantly, they don't have to "unlearn" anything.

One of the things that keeps me from learning a new technology is that I am tied to concepts that are
outdated.

I still have a landline phone. I can't rationally explain why, but I feel like the landline is more
dependable. I rarely use my cell phone. I don't like to text and I resist it fiercely. To contact me, I want
people to email, call or send a Facebook message.

If I was coming out of high school today, I would probably be a texting fiend. But my tendency to be
verbose is better suited to phone or email.

You can also understand why my friends try to push me to text messaging. Not everyone is up for my
hour-long phone calls or 1000 word emails.

The key to embracing technology is figuring out what it can do to improve your current situation.

Which brings me to the Google Car. The New York Times recently had a fascinating article about a car that Google is working on that can drive itself.

I want one.

The article notes that it will be a few years before robot-driven cars become common place. If
it all plays out correctly, that will be about the time when driving becomes more difficult for me.

The article says that automated cars could have as big an impact of on society as the Internet. We
won't care about drunk drivers or people driving while they text. More than 37,000 people die in the U.
S. each year in auto accidents. That number would be dramatically reduced with the Google Car.

Although it will be hip, new technology, the group where it will have the most immediate impact is
senior citizens.

Several of my older friends have hit a stage of life where it difficult for them to drive themselves. It's a
horrible loss of independence and productivity. Not being able to drive can force them to move from
long-established homes and cause them to feel dependent on people to drive them around.

That all changes with the Google Car.

I can see some resistance to turning the driving over to a computer. That's one reason why I urge
people to start being early adapters within their own demographic.

You don't need to know how to program an automated car. You just need to know how to turn it on.

It's been a rough time for the American economy and I don't see it getting better anytime soon. We
have too many years of bad decisions and bad leadership to wring out of the system.

But technology gives me hope. I've long been a fan of things like universal broadband. I can see how it can allow people to live in small towns but do big business. Technology tends to crunch bureaucracies and eliminate current jobs, but it offers a creative person a chance to get ahead further and faster on his own.

It makes us less dependent upon big government and big businesses.

It's all about giving it chance. You don't have to keep up with the nerds at the college computer lab --
you just need to stay ahead of your peer group.

Those who do are going to be happier and more productive in the long run.

And the envy of their neighbors.

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